Tips for Cruising
I fell in love with cruising after the very first time I went. For years I had been dreaming of a cruise and when I finally got around to going on my first one I got hit by the cruise bug.
Each cruise I went on I learnt more about the world of cruising and I would like to share my top tips for cruising that will make your life easier and it the best possible cruise you can have.
1. Get a card lanyard
I didnt realise that you would have a ship card that you will require when you want to make any purchases or getting on and off the chip.
There is nothing worse than getting to the door to get off the cruise and you can not find your cruise card.
I loose anything even if its in my pocket you can guarantee I will have gone through every other pocket before I eventually find it so the best thing to do is get a card lanyard. This way you can carry the cruise card around your neck or even if you dont want to wear it, having it on a cord and in your pocket, bag will make it easier to find.
They do sell them on most cruise ships but they are expensive. you can get some cheaper ones on Amazon.
2. Be polite to the staff
There is no need to be rude to crew on a ship but I see it so often when cruising. The crew are there to make your holiday enjoyable they do not deserve to be treated disrespectable. If you are polite they will of course be polite back and may even offer you a better service.
I find being nice to the waiters means I get served quicker, having a banter with bar staff or servers in the bar areas means they will also keep an eye out for when your glass is getting empty.
Also get to know your cabin steward, this is the person who will be looking after your cabin. I do find being extra friendly to the cabin steward can lead to extras being left in your cabin even if it is an extra chocolate at night it all counts.
3. Look at port excursions before you go
I do this so I can plan what you want to do. On board excursions are more expensive but you have the certainty that they will get you back to the ship on time. I look at crusingexcursions.com beforehand, compare with what the ship is offering and most often the ship is more expensive.
Also I find that sometimes the ship is charging a lot for an excursion and you can get there by yourself for a fraction of the price. See my cruise port guides for more information.
Also if I want to go to an attraction that is not too far from the cruise port, I check Viator which is my favourite tour site for the best priced tickets.
There are some cruise ports that are directly in the centre of the destination so all you need to do is get off in port and go and explore. However some ports can be further away from things to do and may require you get additional transport to get to where you want to go.
I find it useful to google a cruise port I am visiting to find out more information.
Also the cruise port know when a ship is coming into port as well as local tours and even taxi drivers so a majority of ports will offer tours when you get off the ship.
I do suggest however you do a bit of research before hand as I have also visited ports where they is absolutely nothing to do and the only option is to go with the cruise line to visit a local attraction. This is mainly due to me cruising solo as obviously if there are a number of you cruising you can split the costs so if you are in a more secluded port it wont be expensive.
4. Take medications onboard
Ensure you take any medications you may require as seeing the ship doctor can be very expensive. I make sure I have my prescribed medications with me and additional over the counter such as paracetamol, plasters and sea sickness pills just in case I need them.
Even things such as sea sickness pills can be pricy on board. However if you do take ill rest assured there is onboard doctors that will be able to help so do not et this stress you out.
5. Be safe when you get off the ship
Locals know when cruise ships are in port and some (not all) do want to rip you off so be careful and vigilant as you would with visiting any other new destination.
I have heard so many stories of people getting things stolen or getting conned when they get off the cruise ship, but as with any type of travelling it is important to keep your wits about you, dont do anything you would not do at home and keep your valuables safe. Dont take too much money off the ship with you unless you really think you will need it.
Some poorer destinations see cruisers as pots of gold. Cruising used to be an expensive type of holiday so only the rick went but now it is much more affordable this is not the case. However some people will think if you can afford a cruise you are going to have valuables so just be careful!!
6. Pay what you think is right for you
If a cruise is popular and in high demand, it is likely that the prices are going to be higher. If you really want to do a particular itinerary or have a particular cabin, then book as early as possible otherwise being more flexible can sometimes pay off as they reduce the prices to get rid of the cabins.
A popular topic on a cruise is how much you paid for the cabin. I tend not to get involved in these types of conversations as it can be really upsetting if you find out the person sat next to you at dinner paid 50% of what you did. If you were happy to pay the price you did for the cruise do not let these type of conversations ruin your cruise.
I have been on cruises that I know I paid too much for especially as being a solo cruiser but they had a port that I really wanted to visit so I paid the price.
7. Don’t listen to the horror stories
I have a severe phobia of being sick or seeing someone be sick. For years I never wanted to go on a cruise as I kept hearing about the sickness outbreaks and it terrified me.
I must admit on my second cruise there was an outbreak and I said I would never cruise again but then when I got back on dry land I reflected on how well the ship dealt with the situation and a few months later I was booking my next cruise.
There are horror stories about every type of travel you can do and if you listened to everything you would never go on holiday. I wish I had not let the horror stories put me off cruising for so long and had just gone and experienced cruising for myself as it is a totally amazing experience.
8. Research the cruiseship
Cruise ships are very different from each other so bear this in mind. If you don’t like kids screaming and running around don’t book in the school holidays or choose ships that are adult only.
Some cruise liners are themed such as dancing or even antiques you can find different themed cruises here, I didn’t realise there was so many.
Also the size of ship could make the difference, are smaller ships better as they are more personal or would you prefer a larger ship so you don’t bump into the same people all the time, everyone has different preferences.
9. Think about the time of the year for your cruise
If you are a beach lover and want to chill in your shorts and t-shirts in the Mediterranean, then don’t choose to go in December when it is going to be cooler.
Again if you don’t like the heat and crowds don’t choose to go in August.
If you are wanting to see a particular thing such as the Northern Lights, make sure you are going at the time of the year when these are likely to appear.
I have visited popular ports of out of season and had a totally different experience from when I have visited in season. Also if you are visiting a port out of season there may be less activities to do so it is important you know this.
I have friends who go on cruises and do not even get off the cruiseship so the time of year is not important to them as they are more interested in what is happening onboard the cruise rather than in the port.
10. Read the cruise lines daily program
Each cruise line will have a daily programme that is either delivered to you cabin each night or is available on the in cabin entertainment system. The programmes tell will have any important information you need to know as this is the way that the cruise line will communicate with you.
I have been on cruises when people have complained that they have missed an event and I asked if they saw it in the program and they said they dont bother reading the programme well I am sorry but whose fault is it then.
One of my highlights each night is getting the program to find out what is going to be happening onboard or in port the next day.
Have you been on a cruise? Do you have any cruise tips that you think I have missed? Please comment as I would love to hear more.
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- Originally posted June 2016 and updated March 2019